Starting your career in youth justice as a youth justice worker allows you to better understand the challenges the children and young people in our care face. You will work with them every day, listen to their stories, and help them take essential steps to improve their futures.

You will also work closely with multidisciplinary teams, including department leaders, community case managers, behaviour support specialists, programs and cultural support staff, teachers and clinical staff to support the rehabilitation of the young people.

To help develop the necessary skills to be a great youth justice worker, we provide eight weeks of fully paid induction training. On top of this, we offer ongoing development through learning opportunities, coaching and a variety of other education programs.




Jump to:

  • Why choose a career in youth justice custody?
  • A day in the life of a youth justice worker – roles and responsibilities
  • Training requirements for a youth justice worker
  • Skills we are looking for
  • Other custodial roles
  • Learn more

Why choose a career in youth justice custody?

Working in youth justice offers a variety of challenges and rewards:

  • working with children and young people and making a difference in their lives
  • job security
  • learning and development opportunities
  • supervision by leaders in the field
  • being part of a multidisciplinary and culturally diverse workforce
  • attractive salary with penalty rates
  • comprehensive leave options.

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A day in the life of a youth justice worker – roles and responsibilities

As a youth justice worker, you will balance care and control. You will be empathetic and encouraging but will still set important boundaries to maintain a safe environment and hold children and young people accountable for their actions.

On any given day, you will:

  • empower children and young people to steer their lives in a positive direction
  • be a role model – teach basic life skills and guide them through their education and programs
  • establish healthy personal routines by working to a daily structure
  • redirect anti-social and challenging behaviour to the positive standards expected by the community
  • engage them in education and recreational activities through active participation, encouragement and mentoring
  • help develop positive family relationships and support them to get involved in their communities and engage with employment services
  • encourage them to develop new skills through extracurricular programs
  • conduct searches and security checks, respond to incidents and file reports.
Youth Justice Worker sitting and talking with a young person.

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Training requirements for a youth justice worker

To prepare you for your first day, we provide eight weeks of fully paid foundational training including a Certificate IV in Youth Justice.

This training includes introductions to:

  • working in a youth justice environment
  • professional standards and legislation
  • programs and services for young people
  • communication and engagement with young people
  • our internal computer systems
  • understanding trauma, youth mental health, suicide and self-harm
  • responding to children and young people at risk and trauma-informed care
  • our procedures, including operational safety, radio communication, searches, managing medication and food safety.

Once you commence service, you will continue to earn your Certificate IV qualifications. This study will improve your knowledge and skills and better equip you to work in our custodial centres.

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The skills we look for 

In youth justice, we are looking for people who can bring a range of different backgrounds and skills to the role.

We look for:

  • passion and empathy – the willingness to work with children and young people while still setting boundaries
  • life experience – the ability to adapt and manage challenging situations
  • dedication and resilience – maintaining positivity and commitment even after setbacks
  • teamwork – the ability to be a natural team player and work well with a close team
  • verbal and written communication skills – report writing will be part of your job
  • proactivity – the skill for solving challenges and complex issues with bright ideas.

We also value qualifications or experience in the following areas: case management, youth work, community services, social studies, education, criminology or allied health practices such as psychology, speech pathology, occupational therapy, psychiatric nursing or alcohol and other drugs.  

Read further information about becoming a youth justice worker.

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Two youth justice workers making a voice recording with a large microphone

Other custodial roles

You will start your career in youth justice by working in one of our custodial precincts as a youth justice worker. This is just the beginning for you, though. With additional training – or if you have previous skills and experience – there are a variety of areas you can move into within youth justice.

Leadership roles  

By putting your management experience and expertise to work, you can lead a specific area of operations in one of our youth justice precincts. Opportunities also include unit supervision and unit management, which provide coordination of unit activities and people management. These roles are supported through secondments, acting opportunities and in-house leadership training.

Clinical roles

Clinicians at our Cherry Creek facility work within a clinical forensic framework with young people who have committed serious offences and may present with a high risk of reoffending. We look for psychologists, mental health nurses, social workers and occupational therapists with professional accreditation who are passionate about working with young people and have both resilience and the belief in an individual’s ability to make significant change.

Safety and Emergency Response Team (SERT)

Divided into engagement and response teams, SERT promotes security, maintains the safety of young people and staff and provides a highly trained response to critical incidents and emergencies. This includes post-incident briefings, control room operations, conducting searches, and escorting children and young people through the precincts.

Behaviour support specialists

Using specialist knowledge of behaviour and evidence-based strategies, you can work as part of a multi-disciplinary team to develop and oversee the implementation of behaviour support plans and delivery of psychosocial supports. The goal is to support youth justice workers to make a difference to children and young people in custody who are dealing with trauma and disadvantage.

Programs and cultural support

As part of a team delivering programs critical to the development of children and young people at our precincts, you can focus on youth development activities, living and vocational skills, sports/recreation programs or events.

Opportunities include:

  • Youth engagement officers (Parkville) who plan, develop, and deliver targeted after-school and weekend recreation programs. These staff members complement our formal education programs to equip children and young people with the skills required for positive community participation.
  • Sports coaches who drive the Sports Academy in Youth Justice Custody, enabling every young person to take part in a range of sports, such as AFL, basketball, rugby, soccer, netball and all abilities sports. The Sports Academy is designed to harness the power of organised sport to change the life trajectories of children and young people and encourage them to keep playing sport when they leave.
  • Culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) liaison officers who focus on children and young people from CALD backgrounds and engage with community, family and case managers to ensure care is culturally competent.

Aboriginal liaison officers

Focus on children and young people from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander backgrounds and engage with community, family and case managers to ensure care is culturally competent. Only Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people are eligible to apply for Aboriginal-designated positions.

Structured Day team

As part of the multi-disciplinary team driving the Structured Day initiative, you will help children and young people have meaningful engagement in their programs. These roles play a critical part in ensuring professional and personal visits are aligned to individual case plans and address a young person’s rehabilitative needs.

Classification Placement Unit

This unit helps guide the journey of every young person through assessment and identification of individual needs including those of young people with a disability, cultural needs and a young person’s risks. By matching these to resources and infrastructure, you can ensure a young person’s experience in the custodial environment is consistent with their unique and distinct needs.

Business support and administration  

We have lots of roles that support day-to-day operations at our precincts by providing administration support and other critical functions in areas such as accounts, records, food safety, rostering and supplies. 

Infrastructure projects, systems and maintenance

Join the team that provides maintenance to our sites and ensures our youth justice precincts remain safe and secure through structural integrity.

Apply now

Learn more about becoming a youth justice worker

Join one of our regular information sessions for intakes at Cherry Creek and Parkville Youth Justice Precincts. 

You can learn more about youth justice, the role of a youth justice worker and hear from current staff.

View upcoming sessions